The return of the show bag

Full of goodies
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(Pictured: Full of goodies)

In a blast from conferences past, but with a stronger technological bias, all wrapped up in a tastefully and appropriately decorated bag, the organisers and sponsors of the Australian Superannuation and Investment conference warmed the hearts of attendees with their give-aways this year.

After years of austerity in the promotions department, coupled with an ESG-shunning of paper products and waste, the full bag of genuine goodies has made a welcome return.

Last week’s conference, held in Alice Springs, was for many a happy change from the home of the traditional owner of the Gold Coast Sheraton Mirage – Christopher Skase – to that of the traditional owners of Lasseter’s Casino Hotel, the central Arrernte people.

Those who grumbled about the infrequent flights or additional costs associated with the trip, were appeased with an exceptional array of welcome, if irrelevant, branded items. They included, in order of bar-talk popularity:

> The bag itself. A change from the usual satchel or leatherette compendium – or even a biodegradable plastic bag at some conferences in the GFC years – the cotton ‘Cheeky Dogs’ motif shoulder bag was proudly brought to us by Fidelity Worldwide Investment.

> The AXA IM mobile phone, iPad and Blackberry recharger, with attachments for each device that can also fit snugly into a computer’s USB port. AXA IM, the device tells us, is “redefining investment solutions” too.

> A combination lock and bag-tag ensemble, also proudly brought to us by Fidelity, won a place in our hearts more for its novelty than usefulness.

> A handsome brushed metal Perpetual USB memory stick, rated well primarily for presentation than novelty.

> A solid Eaton Vance key ring bottle opener. From experience, even in an age of twist tops. it’s the bottle openers which stand the test of time.

> From Northern Trust Asset Management, a dark chocolate disk on a background of milk chocolate elegantly engraved with the firm’s logo. Full marks for packaging too.

> A matt-black insulated water bottle, with foldable nozzle, from Invesco. Discreetly small logo was appreciated.

> A Lazard Asset Management lens or screen cleaner. While usually free at optometrists, they have been known to sell for up to $1 per item. But those ones wouldn’t have the Lazard brand on them.

> A laminated and magnetized foldable bookmark, which was a joint-venture offering from Mandiri Investasi from Indonesia and its Australian representative AFM Investment Partners.

> A light-weight two-toned biro from HSBC Global Asset Management, which looked suspiciously like the hotel’s give-away pens.

> A small bag of jelly beans from Aberdeen. Come on guys, really. But at least everyone loves jelly beans.

> A little Hermes Investment management post-it note pad. Hmm. It’s the thought that counts.

Sadly for some, ASI returns to the Gold Coast next year. Hopefully as much thought and effort will go into next year’s bag.

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